A person who loses memory has amnesia. A society with its memory undeveloped and untested suffers a collective amnesia, and its path into the future is unclear. History is the active, developed memory of a people. Many working people have active memories, even though they live in a wider culture which does much to suppress memory or to shroud the past in veils of romance or nostalgia. Re-charging memory is the first step in charting a different and better future.
Seafaring Canadians worked at a distance from Canadian shores, but they still tell us about the society from which they came. They tell us about a darker side of conflict, which may be painful to observe. They also tell us about a concern for basic human rights, a sense of egalitarianism, which seafaring did not create but only reinforced.
It was very refreshing when I went to sea, the kind of discrimination I'd known before [against Ukrainians] did not exist. The climate wasn't right for that. Maybe some had those kind of opinions, but they certainly wouldn't have been popular. Maybe these more positive opinions needed the right sort of ground to grow on.
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Publication information: Book title: Ships and Memories:Merchant Seafarers in Canada's Age of Steam. Contributors: Eric W. Sager - Author. Publisher: University of British Columbia Press. Place of publication: Vancouver, B.C.. Publication year: 1993. Page number: 150.